Long Night Dance - Betsy James

I have no idea how Long Night Dance ended up on my TBR pile, it was something recommended somewhere that I thought sounded interesting and the rest was history...

 

The focus of the book is Kat, who is just turned 15 and living as housekeeper for her father in what is a very joyless life, all rules and obligations. They live in Upslope, not associating with the people who live around them, who are universally condemned by them. The eponymous Long Night is coming soon, a night when the other people dance their various dances, while the good people of Upslope stay at home. Kat and her brother are already somewhat outsiders because her mother was one of the hill women and her father is still struggling to regain what he sees as his rightful place within the community as a result of his actions in marrying her.

 

Kat is already starting to want to know who she is and (internally at least) rebel against all of this when she goes down to the beach and discovers someone washed up there - he is one of the seal people, cast out by them and left to die, and with the help of her brother, Kat saves his life. This decision, and the people they meet as a result of it, open her eyes to a larger world and help both Kat and her brother to change.

 

What I really liked about Long Night Dance was two things: firstly, the descriptive language is excellent but not over-blown, and secondly, it doesn't fall into the trap of some YA books that the newly-introduced male character 'saves' the main female character somehow. It is Kat who is the active one here, not him, and he also actively rejects the possibility of her transferring her relationship with her father to him, encouraging her to find out who and what she is before making any sort of commitment. Much healthier for everyone concerned in the long run, in my opinion.

 

Anyway, Long Night Dance is the first book of a trilogy, so I've put the other two on my TBR and will be keeping an eye out for a copy of the next one, which is Dark Heart.